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Kochi History, India

Kochi, the second-most important city of the Indian State of Kerala after the capital-city Thiruvananthapuram, has a pretty captivating history. Although the area had seen human habitation even in pre-historic times (as evidenced by the Menhir found near Tripunithura), the city was formally established as the Kingdom of Cochin in the early years of the 12th century following the disintegration of the Kulsekhara Empire.

Kochi History - Its Emergence as a Trading Port

A princely state, Cochin gained fame for its natural harbor – a harbor that became synonymous with Indian spice trade post flooding of the Periyar River and the devastation of the Kodugallur/Cranganore Port in the mid-14th century. It was not the Indian trading community that was reaching out to foreign shores; instead, the famous Indian spices like cardamom, cinnamon, pepper, etc. were pulling foreign traders – Arabs, Chinese, Dutch, English, Portuguese to Kochi. This was one of the most crucial periods in Kochi history as the city soon saw settlement by various foreign trading communities and the arrival of envoys/representatives of European nations.

Kochi History - Foreign Rules

Kochi history took a new turn with the arrival of envoys as it led to extended periods of foreign rule with different European nations controlling the real state of affairs of Kochi at different times, while the Kochi rulers continued to be nominal heads.

It all started with the Portuguese rule of Kochi. Following a treaty between the Kochi King and the Portuguese envoy, the Portuguese obtained an order to set up a factory in 1502. The construction of Manuel Kotta or Fort Emanuel (the first European fort built on Indian soil and named after the Portuguese King) a year later marked the beginning of the Portuguese control over Kochi, which lasted for about one and a half-century, till 1663. The Portuguese period is considered to be one of the most prosperous periods in Kochi history.

The Dutch wrested the control of Kochi from the Portuguese in 1663. They continued their rule for over a century till 1773, when they were defeated by the valiant Mysore ruler, Hyder Ali, as part of his Malabar conquest. Mysorean rule continued until the death of Hyder Ali’s son Tipu Sultan (who was yet another military genius) in a war with British forces in 1799.

The British started exercising control and influence almost immediately but the real transfer of power took place in 1814 post signing of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty. The English Rule of Kochi lasted till India’s independence in 1947. The British period was yet another successful phase in Kochi History as the English turned Cochin/Kochi into the most advanced and safest harbor in India. The English also undertook other large/grand-scale construction/development works that made Kochi one of the most sought after cities of India.

Kochi History - Post-Independence Era

Following India’s independence in 1947, Kochi (until then known as Cochin) joined the Indian Union, becoming the first Princely State to do so. In 1949, Kochi became a part of the Madras State following the unification of Cochin and Travancore. Finally, in 1956, Kochi was incorporated into the newly created State of Kerala as per dictates of the States Re-organization Act of 1956.

A very busy commercial center with its own Corporation, Kochi is today named among India’s most rapidly growing metros, which is equally popular among the residents and tourists.

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